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Love Blossoms for Seniors in Pandemic Nursing Home


GEORGE TOWN: When Cupid shot them, there was no escape because love has no age limit.

The story began when Kathleen Dielenberg, 83, began staying in a private retirement home in Bayan Lepas whenever her son had to travel to Singapore for work.

She would be alone and would be homesick. And it got worse when the pandemic struck and movement restrictions were enforced.

About three months ago, she met Paul Chew Chooi Hin, 81, who was also staying at home.

One day, a sad Dielenberg told Chew how much she wished she could go home.

Chew, who was more optimistic, told him that if they could build a house there, then they wouldn’t need to think of another place like home.

It led to days of laughter and long conversations.

Eventually, they told the co-founder of the retirement home, Tan Soo Siang, that they had decided to get married.

“We took about 10 days to plan the wedding and it was celebrated with 19 other residents and caretakers.

“It was a simple but happy occasion for everyone,” said Tan, 33.

Tan said they accompanied Chew on the walk to Dielenberg’s room to take him to the lobby for the cake-cutting ceremony.

“All the other residents were so happy for them. Throughout the movement control order, our residents were quite depressed because they couldn’t see their friends and family for months.

“So the celebration cheered everyone up. “

She said they were all wearing their finest clothes and were excited for the bride and groom.

The couple exchanged vows, promising “to have and keep from that day forward, for better or for worse, for the richest or the poorest, sick and healthy, to love and to cherish, until death do us part “.

Tan said Chew lost his wife a few years ago while Dielenberg’s husband left her when her son was only one year old.

“Dielenberg was a single mother until she met Chew.

“Their children are happy that their parents were able to find love at their age and gave them their blessings,” she said, adding that Chew had four sons who are all overseas.

She said they had no objections to marriage as long as their parents were happy.

The wedding, she said, reunited Dielenberg’s son and two family members from Chew’s side.

“The others attended via Zoom,” she said.